Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Department name when degree awarded

Management Information Systems

Committee Chair(s)

Jeffrey J. Johnson


Jeffrey J. Johnson


David J. Paper


Zsolt G. Ugray


Kelly J. Fadel


Jean M. Lown


The primary purpose of this research was to examine the adoption of computer security software in the home computer environment. The use of the Health Belief Model as a framework to design a model to examine home user adoption of computer security provided the basis for this research.

The method of the investigation was a cross-sectional study using a self-reported web-based survey to test the theoretical model derived from the Health Belief Model. The survey targeted individuals who are responsible for the selection, installation, and maintenance of software on their home computers. The data collection relied on a snowball sampling technique that recruited a total of 186 participants who completed the online survey.

The research model contains a total of 26 hypothesized relationships that were tested using multiple regression analysis techniques. The research model contains six main predicting variables (perceived vulnerability, perceived severity, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, self-efficacy, and cues to action) and four moderating variables (age, gender, education, and prior experience of attack). The model explains 30.4% of the variance in computer security usage, the dependent variable in the research model.

The results demonstrate that certain constructs found in the Health Belief Model are more effective than others in motivating individuals to utilize computer security software. Specifically, the results show that perceived vulnerability (H1), perceived barriers (H4), self-efficacy (H5), and the two-way interactions of age and barriers (H8d), education and benefits (H9c), prior experience and perceived severity (H10b), and prior experience and self-efficacy (H10e) had significant effects on computer security usage. Additionally, prior experience was found to have a significant main effect on the dependent variable.

Information from this research provides evidence that the Health Belief Model can be used to study the computer security usage behavior of home computer users. Further, the relationship of perceived vulnerability and computer security usage provides a way for practitioners to increase computer security usage behavior through targeted media campaigns.




This work made publicly available electronically on April 11, 2011.